2005: A Hell of a Year in New Jersey Politics

By Steve Adubato, Ph.D. What an interesting year in New Jersey politics. What better way to end 2005 than to honor the good, the bad and the pretty ugly on the political scene? –The “Most Impressive Political Performance in 2005” award no doubt goes to Acting Governor and Senate President Dick Codey. Codey got the call that he would have to step up and stand in for disgraced outgoing Governor Jim McGreevey. Codey did it like a pro. He gave a budget address that was sobering and candid. He talked about the state being on the verge of bankruptcy. He made some tough fiscal decisions and raised the bar for others in Trenton. He also negotiated what seems like a good deal with the Jets and the Giants over at the Meadowlands. His advocacy of mental health issues together with his wife Mary Jo (who candidly spoke about her serious depression) was noteworthy. Simply put, Codey had the common touch that appealed to most voters. –The “Dumbest Campaign Move” this past year was made by Republican candidate for governor, Doug Forrester. Forrester, down in the polls, late in the fourth quarter did something he publicly said he wouldn„t do. He used the brutally negative comments of Jon Corzine„s ex-wife Joanne Corzine who said Corzine had let his family down and would probably let New Jersey down as well. Forrester was probably going to lose anyway, because New Jersey rarely elects Republicans statewide, but with this move he turned off people on a much deeper level. Simply put, it„s in really bad taste to use the comments of ex- and often-spurned spouses in the political arena. Doug Forrester knew better but he did it anyway. –The “Most Impressive Figure in a Political Ad” was Doug Forrester„s wife Andrea who did a heartfelt and sincere testimonial for her husband. Too bad they couldn„t have run that ad for the entire campaign. Doug might have had a fighting chance. –The “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is Award” goes to Governor-elect Jon Corzine. Some may not be thrilled that Corzine spent over $40 million in the governor„s race combined with the over $60 million getting elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, but it is his right and apparently he believes in himself and his message. Corzine„s deep pockets also scared off everyone else and allowed him to focus on strategy and execution as opposed to fundraising. That„s a hell of an advantage and Corzine used it to the max. –The “Most Talked About Woman in New Jersey Politics in 2005” was CWA president Carla Katz, who had a personal relationship with Corzine and was lucky enough to have him loan her almost a half million dollars to purchase a home and then forgive the debt. Everyone was talking about Carla Katz and her relationship with Corzine, but in the end it didn„t matter very much to voters. –The “Clearing the Air” award goes to all those involved in the legislature and the governor„s office in supporting a law that would ban smoking in virtually all public places, excluding select areas in casinos. This legislation is long overdue and those who argue that they have a “right” to blow smoke in other people„s faced in public areas are simply dead wrong. New Jersey will be better off and healthier for cutting down on second hand smoke, particularly when people are eating in restaurants. –The “Catchiest Slogan in New Jersey Politics” was “pay to play.” Every politician is against the practice of having fat cats contribute to campaigns and then get government contracts, but it has been going on in New Jersey since the beginning of time. Officially ending “pay to play” won„t guarantee that influence and money won„t continue to matter more than merit when it comes to future government contracts being doled out. –The “He Still Doesn„t Get It Award” goes to Jim McGreevey. Word is, even though he got $500,000 to tell the dirty details of his shocking story, sources say McGreevey isn„t ready yet to spill his guts. He would rather talk about public policy and his ideas for how government should work. Hey, Jim, let„s be honest. Nobody really cares what you think about any of that stuff. Anyone who is going to buy your book is going to want to know how you managed to get married twice and have two children, all the while knowing you were gay. Why else would a publisher give you half a million bucks? –The “Political Bloodline Award” goes to Tom Kean, Jr. You couldn„t have a better or more popular father than former Governor Tom Kean, Sr. He is golden. Untouchable. Particularly after his work chairing the 9/11 Commission. Everyone loves him, including Democrats. Simply put, the Kean name gives Tom Jr. a legitimate shot at getting elected to the U.S. Senate in the fall.

2005: A Hell of a Year in New Jersey Politics